The Fiscal Year 2020 budget is now on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk, after the Legislature kicked off its work week last Monday by passing a $43.1 billion package
MHA has sent a letter to the governor urging his support for a number of MHA priority items contained in the budget, including $250,000 for the Massachusetts Consultation Service for Treatment of Addiction and Pain to offer case management and care navigation support to help providers find continuing community-based substance use disorder treatment for patients; $300,000 to provide nasal naloxone rescue kits in emergency departments for patients being treated for substance use disorder to take home; language to help preserve the benefits of the federal 340B drug discount program for safety net hospitals and the commonwealth; and encouraging the state to make the full transfer of the budget-directed $15 million to the Health Safety Net prior to the beginning of the program’s fiscal year in October.
The letter also calls for support for a number of items relative to behavioral health, including $2 million for a loan forgiveness program for mental health professionals and a $10 million transfer to the newly created Behavioral Health Outreach, Access and Support Trust Fund to kick-start a $500,000 public awareness campaign to address the stigma surrounding behavioral health treatment.
Furthermore, the request asks for the inclusion of language that would prevent insurers from retroactively denying claims for behavioral health services and supports an increase in funding for the Division of Professional Licensure to eliminate the existing backlog of licensure applications for behavioral health professionals and to assist these providers through the licensure process.
Governor Baker now has until Wednesday of this week to decide whether to veto provisions in the budget and/or make amendment recommendations.